Travel smart to Rajasthan

For me travelling smart is to –

1. Travel light

2. Spend smartly yet have the right destinations covered

3. Have fun

4. Be on move without getting stressed out

5. Travel to a destination as if you are travelling only for once

6. Plan in such a way so that you waste minimum number of leaves for the travel.

Rajasthan has been my dream destination throughout. Not only for its palaces and desert but also it culture, merchandise and food. Added to that if we get a chance to see their festivals that will always be bonus for me.

Since our company holiday calendar is given at the beginning of the year it is always easy for me to plan for future. Durga Puja and Dusserah is always the best time for us Bengalis to travel and this year we get longer weekend to make it easy for me to travel. That means wasting of less number of earned leaves I can travel to my dream destination. Problem with travel to a place like Rajasthan is one needs at least two weeks of time for the travel and as the hotels are expensive the entire tour becomes expensive.

So another challenge is to keep the travel within budget and that can be achieved by meticulous planning and utilization of time.

This year I have chosen the Dusserah time in October to travel to Rajasthan as thanks to our holiday schedules I am getting off on 2nd, 3rd and 6th October and the weekend days to make my trip a great success with minimum number of leaves taken. Since I will be in Hyderabad for office work during that time I have quickly made a plan to travel to Rajasthan from there. Here is a snapshot of the plans –

1. From Hyderabad to Bikaner – 

Rajasthan - Jaisalmer

2. From Bikaner back to Hyderabad via Ujjain – 

Bikaner-Ujjain

While planning smart I have kept the following things in mind – 

1. Have maximum travels by train AC III tier to have comfort and also to save costs

2. Whole night travel by train to save hotel costs

3. To cover maximum prominent sight seeing destinations within stipulated timeframe.

4. Have comfort of sight-seeing by booking non ac (October will not need AC cabs) Indica cabs for comfort of travel at economic rates. Better to have another family of two with us to share cab costs.

5. Book decent 3-star accommodations in the entire route of journey.

6. Have train rides only for whole night journey, so that the maximum day time can be spent on travel and related experience.

7. Keep evenings for exotic destinations, shopping etc.

8 Have sufficient funds in reserve for buying Rajasthani artifacts and experience other things there.

9. Have a circular path followed and travel by train only in nights to cover more destinations within the same budget and time.

10. Use cab for city transfer in such a way so that while for the day’s travel sight-seeing destinations of both the places are covered. This will minimize travel time and give maximum travel experience.

Here’s a quick look at the smart budget planned for the trip of my small family –

Costing

I will keep another 25,000 for miscellaneous expenses, purchasing merchandise and any other unforseen costs. So my total budget for this tour will be Rs. 100,000. Can you find any other tour operator that will give you a tour of so many destinations at such a great price??

Accessories

Any smart travel is incomplete without proper accessories. These help in not only travel light but travel with ease and happiness. Keeps many problems away. These are must take items that one can’t forget –

Accessories

The much needed smart travel accessories

Medicines

Apart from normal medicines for ourselves, we need to take immunization against Typhoid, Meningitis, Hepatitis A and B, Japanese encephalitis since this is a long tour to Rajasthan. Some other medicine like Electrolyte will also help in dehydration. Glucon D is another medicine and Dabur Lal Tel is a oil that will help us keep our cool.

Wardha

First stopover for us will be at Wardha which is a journey of one night from Secundrabad railway station. The plan here is to use 1st October as working day in office and then catch the train on 1st October night and reach Wardha the nest morning. Since we will catch another train for Surat on 2nd night and there is no hotel stay planned in Wardha, we will freshen ourselves up in the AC compartment of the train itself. In this journey whenever there is no plan for a stopover we will save our cost this way and travel smart. Idea is to explore maximum places at minimum cost and with wasting minimum energy.

Surat

Skycanner1

The main attraction in Surat is Surat Castle. However, as we like natural beauty the most we would prefer enjoying the Gira waterfalls the most. Apart from that, historical places like Dandi and Bardoli will also keep us hooked. Not to miss the temples and museum for some extra pie. But I would like to keep the museum at the end as I don’t mind missing the same for the historical or natural glimpses.

Udaipur

Udaipur City Palace Night

Skycanner6

Jag Mandir

Udaipur is city of palaces. The Udaipur palace, Lake palace and Jag mandir will be of primary attraction to us. Since we will spend two complete days here and on third day we will get some time to visit some attractions while travelling to Jodhpur by cab, we will make our sightseeing plan accordingly.

Jodhpur

Jodhpur City Palace

Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan. Out of the many places of interest there the palaces, Mehargarh Fort and Jaswant Thada will be top on my radar.

Another importance of travelling to Jodhpur during 7th and 8th October to me will be to enjoy the Marwar festival at Jodhpur. This year in 2014 the festival dates are 7-8 October and I will be present at Jodhpur on 7th October. Hope this will bring a very useful essence of Rajasthani culture to us.

Jaisalmer

Desert

No tour in Rajasthan can be complete without experiencing the desert. Desert that we will get in Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur that can definitely add a wow experience to this trail. Not to mention that Jaisalmer palaces too will add to attraction.

Jaisalmer Fort

Bikaner

After Jaisalmer we will travel to Bikaner by Jaisalmer – Hwh SF Exp. This train reaches Bikaner early morning. Apart from Junagarh Fort and Lalgar Palace I will be interested to see the Camel breeding farm there. There are some other temples in Bikaner but since our travel time in Bikaner is short I don’t mind missing a few other things.

Lalgarh Palace

Lalgarh Palace lighitng

Jaipur

Jaipur

Jaipur is the capital city of Rajasthan and biggest city in terms of population, richest in terms of heritage and historical places. My visit to Jaipur thus is for a longer duration compared to other places in Rajasthan.

Jaipur Jal Mahal

Hawa Mahal

Ajmer Pushkar

Pushkar

Pushkar Camel Fair

We will take Shatabdi Express to Ajmer as that will cost us less compared to taking a cab. Not sure if we can experience the Pushkar fair but will definitely enjoy the lake and Dargah Sharif there.

Kota

Chambal Gardens_Kota

Chambal, notorious for its decoits many of whom have become legends today, have a beautiful garden. Apart from that Jag mandir and Kota Barage are also attractions that can’t be missed.

Chittaurgarh

Chittaurgarh FortSince Chittaurgarh is only 3 hours drive from Kota we will drive down to Chittaurgarh after our sight seeing at Kota is complete. We will stay at Chittaurgarh for the night.

Next day morning we will check out from our hotel and go out for sight seeing with our luggage. We will keep our luggage in the taxi while we go around. Our main focus in Chittaurgarh will be Chittaurgarh Fort, Rana Kumbha Palace and Rani Padmini Palace. If this doesn;t take away our entire day on Thursday then we will go for the museum and some shopping around.

Thursday night we will catch JP NGP Exp From Chittaurgarh to Ujjain.

Ujjain

Ujjain TempleUjjainUjjain is known as a temple city and even though we are not that god fearing we love to experience our culture and heritage in our old temples and temple cities.

These temples give us much needed relaxation and takes us away from the hustle and bustle of our city life.

This is why we will have one day relaxation stay at Ujjain on Saturday to de-stress ourselves completely after our long travel. This is only to recharge ourselves for the next hectic schedule of our mundane corporate life.

We will start our smart travel with Sai Baba’s blessings at Wardha ashram and will end our journey with blessings from Ujjain’s Mahakaleshwar’s temple.

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Disclaimer – None of the images except the excel tables used in this article belong to the author. The author has collected them from the internet and from different websites.

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Painting

I was then an eighth grader. Study in a co-ed school. Since I was never very tall and healthy I used to look younger compared to my class. No girls used to befriend me and I was also scared of talking to them, fearing that they would make me their little brother instead.

Our class monitor Shailesh was a very senior student of the school. He used to compulsorily fail at least twice in each class. Since the school was a small municipal school they have never bothered to expel him from the school. Instead he was made our class monitor  y our teacher.

As it always happens with these adult rogues who are called class monitors, he used to boss over all of us, especially over Manoj, Montu and Krinal. He was very stubborn and whimsical. He used to maintain strict punctuality for other students. He thought only he knew what discipline meant. We used to feel that he thinks he is more powerful than our teachers too. We all used to hate him but never had courage to say anything as he was very close to our teachers for his strict discipline and because he has won many medal in athletics for our school.

Serious 7

Did you beat Montu??

One day when we were all sitting in the class waiting for our teacher suddenly we saw headmaster Binodbabu coming. Without any introduction he directly asked Shailesh –

–          Did you beat Montu?

–          Yes sir. – He confessed.

–          But why? Did he abuse you?

–          No

–          Did he beat you?

–          No sir

–          Did he frighten you?

–          No sir, he was talking like a fool.

–          Does that mean you will beat him so that he starts bleeding?? – Binodbabu scolded him and also asked him to stand outside the class holding his ears.

All of us who wanted to teach Shailesh a lesson for months were very amused. But I could not understand why he had to beat Montu as Montu was a very simple and down to earth boy. So in the evening I went to Shailesh’s house. –

–          Hey dude, what happened? Why you had to beat Montu? I asked.

In reply, he has taken out a painting and shown it to me and said –

–          For this

–          This? Why he wanted to steal or snatch it anyway?

–          No man..he was commenting like a fool.

Since I was good in studies, I thought let me see the painting and encourage Shailesh so that he forgets the incidence with Montu and the punishment of Binodbabu.

I looked at the painting thoroughly and said –

–          Wow, this is really nice painting dude. So what is it? A man chasing a few rabbits in front of a hut?

–          No, no. This is my painting of Kurukshetra war. These are not rabbit boss, these are horses. – he said

–          Oh ok..but why there are so many trees? Are these the weapons? And why the sun is black in your painting?

–          No man. These are not trees? They are arrows aimed at Arjun and that is not Sun, it is Sri Krishna’s Chakra – he replied.

–          Okay, I understand. Then why you have so many dogs running in the sky? Are these some kinds of weapons too? – I asked.

–          Oh no..they are not dogs. They are angels. They are all observing the war from heaven. They are little far off so I have given them a perspective, you will not understand all that. – He said

Probably I will really not understand. But I couldn’t stop asking another question.

–         Why is that black dressed woman running behind Arjun with a stick? – I asked?

–         Oh, you are sick man! He started screaming. That is not a woman that is black smoke billowing out of war field.

I did not understand that thoroughly and so wanted to give him some better suggestion.

I said, “You know what, I think you can rename this as “Draupadi’s Bastraharan”. That black woman can be Draupadi, you just need to give her some good sari. The dogs in the sky can be angels viewing the sin from heaven, Krishna with the sun sorry with his Chakra can be Mama Sakuni showing victory sign, the rabbits running can be Nokul and Sahadeb running to call Bheem and Arjun in your painting can represent Duryodhan, with raised hands he is snatching her sari. It will be awesome dude.”

He said – ‘Bastraharan!!” haan…you want to see Bastraharan?? He pounced on me to strip me of my clothes with these words.

I ran away and said hurriedly – “Ok, ok, dude, take it easy..Don’t make it Bastraharan if you don’t like, change it to “Love story of Raja Dusmanto” instead. You have the trees, I mean the arrows that can be easily made into trees. Those rabbits can be deer running in the forest. Krishna and Arjun can be Raja Dusmanto and his friend. That smoke can be Shakuntala in Raja’s mind, so little dark, unclear. Those angels in the sky can represent birds in sky.”

I have not even stopped this when he almost suddenly started beating me. ‘You idiot, you all are fools, nincompoops”. He caught me by my collar.

I was very astonished by his anger. Immediately I have detached myself from his clutches and said angrily, – “See man, if you don’t like my idea, you can make it something else too. Say, “Sri Ramchandra’s Rajyabhishek”. The chariot of Arjun can be the throne where Arjun is actually Dasaratha giving bow and arrow to Ramachandra who is none other than Sri Krishna in your painting. The rabbits, I mean horses can be onlookers, those trees I mean arrows aimed at Arjun can be buildings. Angels are already observing”

I was about to say how he needed to change that black dressed woman or smoke billowing from the Warfield when he took out a stick and started beating me. I somehow escaped by running. Next day I complained to our Headmaster against him.

You guys tell me, what my fault was if I thought of him as a good friend of mine and wanted to give him some friendly suggestions. How could he be so rude and nasty with his friends? Don’t you guys think I did the right thing by complaining to Headmaster? If you guys get any answer to this, please let me know. I am still thinking…

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Disclaimer- The image used is not mine. It is linked to the source.

The cab ride that has made my #ConditionSerious

Recently I came across this contest that asks me to write about persons whose condition is serious. The contest definition says those who are always serious in every matter they handle, more punctual than time are categorized as person jinki condition serious hai. I could not think of any other person than myself. Well I am the one who is very punctual, so much so that I have never waited for any girls anywhere. If they were five minutes late I used to go elsewhere. Well, not to mention that is the reason I never had any steady girlfriend too. So I am writing this post for the contest –

Serious 5

This incidence happened when I was travelling to Shirdi with my family, me, my wife and our little 1 year old kid, Piku. We went to Manmad from Hyderabad and took a cab to Shirdi from Manmad station. Even though there were Tata Sumos available I didn’t want to travel like cattle and hence thought of hiring a Maruti Omni for us – personal vehicle with a personal touch. The driver caught us at the platform before we could see his vehicle and I was okay until I saw his vehicle and got inside.

As soon as I got into the cab I realized that it might have been scrapped by its owner a few years ago. That special vehicle didn’t have a front window pane, the seat covers were cut off and the sponge lining was visible from outside. The whole van was stinking like hell as if it was soaked in mud just the previous day.

Within five minutes I realized that I will repent this trip throughout. I couldn’t believe that for a journey that should have cost me not more than 300 rupees at the most, I am paying double the amount. I felt that I would be happy if we reached Shirdi in good condition without any trouble.

The driver soon started from the station and I got engaged into thinking about our trip. Suddenly the cab came to a screeching halt in the middle of nowhere. Only a few huts were visible at a distance.

 – What happened? I asked the driver. I was worried that he would ask for more money by giving some reason or the other.

 – “The driver will come”. said the man who negotiated the fare with me and whom I thought was our driver.

What the hell. I have booked his cab and negotiated the price with him but he had never told me that someone else was going to drive. I felt like giving a big blow on his face for keeping me stranded in the middle of nowhere, risking all our lives. I was more worried about upsetting that day’s schedule that I had planned meticulously with minute details than anything else.

But almost immediately I realized that if that guy wanted he could have robbed us instead if his intentions were really bad. To add to my dismay, the driver disappeared in one of the huts after being in the cab for 10 minutes. He didn’t even give me a choice to protest or say anything and disappeared suddenly.

Now I had no choice but to wait for the unforeseen driver and didn’t have any choice of taking another cab / bus to my destination as it was a completely deserted place. We were left alone in the middle of nowhere. My wife was also fuming and I was just waiting for another volcano to erupt on me without any fault of mine. That made me even more angry on that guy.

I was almost falling asleep when the original driver appeared from nowhere like a chamatkar after 20 minutes of wait. Those 20 minutes were like two hours to us.

After he appeared the first thing I have done was confirming the price with him. I wanted to make sure that all my initial bargains don’t fail with this new man coming in. To my surprise, he was not bothered at all and seemed to be disinterested in my bargain. So far I was happy with this bargain and thought that I have got a good bargain but slowly I started feeling that the bargain was not good at all.

  – You know there is a village here where we don’t have any lock in our doors as there is no theft or robbery. The driver wanted to start conversation.

–  Oh that’s great. While I said that, I also wondered – what was the need to steal from the villagers when they could rob the tourists daily in broad daylight? I didn’t have courage to utter those words though.

We reached Shirdi in approximately two hours. We were approaching the temple and I was thinking that my wife will be satisfied after we reach the serviced apartment that I have booked for us. This apartment was half a kilometre away from the temple. Our plan was to visit the temple in the afternoon when there was no crowd.

At a first glance, I felt that Shirdi is an upcoming town and the signs of a village turning into a town were evident everywhere. There were some malls and shops and a lot of hotels on both sides of the main road.

Serious 1The bumpy ride

My hotel was in front of the water park. I wanted to visit the water park after the temple visit. I started imagining how much fun we would have in the park when suddenly the driver took a left turn from the main road and shattered my string of thoughts.

–  Where are you going? You need to go to the ‘Silver Oak Holiday Home’ just opposite to the water park. – I screamed.

I tried to confirm the location as he was driving into a muddy area full of big craters and all of them filled with muddy water. I have never seen this kind of road in my lifetime. Even the prehistoric roads as I have seen them in my history books were better.

–  Yes, I am going in the right direction –  he replied calmly

–  What are you saying? I have booked a three star accommodation. At least from the room rent I felt so.

–  Sir, there is a five star hotel on this road, too – pat came the reply.

His reply came as a direct blow on my face. All my dreams were shattered in no time. I couldn’t believe that they had five star hotel in a muddy and bumpy road full of craters. I was never so dejected even when I was rejected by my first love.

Serious 4

 –  Oh shit, is this the place you have booked? You always try to save money in small things and never take care of our comfort. I don’t know what my father has seen in you when he had chosen a worthless fellow like you – my wife started her usual complaining

 –  My bad… I didn’t have information on the approach road of our hotel on net. I tried to be bold.

As we went in I could only see water on all sides of the car. The big holes under my feet made the situation scary. I started praying in all possible languages to Baba that the car should not stop there. I started imagining the vehicle stopped in the middle of the road and I was asked to push the vehicle. As we progressed in the road and there was no sight of our hotel that possibility of me pushing the vehicle seemed more.

  –  See your hotel there. It is only another turn away. Driver pointed to something towards the left.

  – Oh, that’s ok. You concentrate on driving… I almost screamed. I didn’t want him to lose focus and go into deeper water or even worse – to turn turtle.

I will never forget the vicious smile he had on his face after seeing me scared. I felt like kicking his ass and throwing him out of the window, but restrained myself considering the greater danger of getting down and pushing the car to my destination.

He took another left turn through a bushy area. I never wanted this trip to be so adventurous. Already taking the one year old baby in Indian train was enough of adventure for me.

No, the last part was not so bad. The final 10 yards was free of any water or craters and we reached an apparently new building with a cute school for toddlers in front.
It was 8 am by my watch. My hope of having a good holiday at Shirdi has died down by that time.

Before paying the driver off I got off from the cab to meet the manager.

As I entered the premises I could see one table with a huge register kept on it but nobody was in site. The table was probably taken from an old furniture shop as a reject. The chair was one of the typical chairs used in govt. offices and this one was repaired several times but still put to use. I was looking for the manager when one person came out of the watchman’s room.

  – May I see the manager please! I urged.

  – Yes, tell me. The fellow replied.

Serious 6

To my utter shock, the person who seemed like room servant or at the best the watchman of the premises turned out to be the manager, too. Good money saving tactic huh…

  – I have booked a room online. Can you please check if this is confirmed?

I wanted to confirm first as I couldn’t believe that I have booked this hotel online with price of a three star hotel.

At the back of my mind, for the first time ever I was thinking that may this turn out to be the wrong hotel. I didn’t want to take the risk of staying at an island in Shirdi and definitely I didn’t pay the premium price for an area like that.

  – Yes, this is confirmed.

Oh god! What a shock with this confirmation. I couldn’t show my true emotion to him. Instead, I smiled and went back to pay the driver.

  –  One more thing. Our check-in time is at 12 noon – Pat came another shocker from the manager.

  –  What! Do you mean I need to wait for four hours to get a room now?

  –  Yes

  – See I plan to vacate your room by tomorrow 8 am. Why don’t you adjust? – I tried to calm down and show patience.

  – Ummmm well, I can do one thing. I will not give you generator back up for four hours in the morning.

  – Four hours! What do you mean? Don’t you have any electricity? I almost screamed as I continued to get shocks from this man.

  – Sir, we have daily six hours of power cut. Four in the morning and two in the……

By this time I remembered that I already read it somewhere on the web but I was not prepared for these shockers in a three star hotel.

  – But can’t you adjust this little bit as we are planning to visit the temple in a while and you can put the lights off then.

I tried to negotiate again.

This time he agreed. I patted my own back. I am mastering negotiation skills.

Meanwhile, one servicing person came from inside the watchman’s (sorry manager’s) room. Probably he was the only other person apart from us and the manager in that building.

I was wondering how the building will look like in the middle of the night when there is mandatory power cut. As a positive thinker, I could only think of another adventurous night in a haunted house. I wished that my dream of writing a best-selling novel on a haunted house will come true now.

Serious 3

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Disclaimer – This post is written only for humour purpose and not to hurt anyone’s feelings. If this anyway hurts anyone’s feeling that is purely unintentional and regretted.

All the images used in this post are taken from internet and none of them belongs to this author.